ILO mission’s recommendations

Published by rudy Date posted on October 5, 2009

At the end of its investigative visit, the high-level fact-finding mission of the International Labor Organization did not accuse the Arroyo Administration of doing what militant labor and political groups have been claiming. The ILO probers did not say in the statement they issued on Thursday that they had found the government to have grossly violated the human rights of workers, killing and disappearing union leaders, and unjustly treating unionists while favoring employers. They did not validate the militant union Kilusang Mayo Uno’s complaint that in carrying out its anti-communist insurgency campaign, the government has summarily executed some 100 workers and labor leaders.

But the ILO mission members did call on the Arroyo Administration to take certain steps that only a government guilty of human rights violations should be asked to do.

For instance, the ILO mission said, “A statement of the highest level of the Government instructing all government actors to make special efforts to ensure that their actions do not infringe upon the basic civil liberties of trade unionists could go a long way in reassuring the workers that have brought their complaints to the ILO.”

Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, a mission member, told the media a statement like that would show that the administration “does not condone” human rights violations and the killings of workers. “It will help clarify allegations of the impunity” with which government people do abduction, harassment and extra-judicial killing of laborers. The KMU had formally informed the ILO in 2007 of these alleged crimes against workers committed by government agents.

President Arroyo and her people must not scoff at this ILO mission’s exhortations. Ms. Doumbia-Henry is the director of the ILO international labor standards department. The other members of the mission are Karen Curtis, deputy director general of the ILO International Labor Standards department, and TIm de Meyer, International Labor Standards Specialists of the ILO sub-regional office for East Asia.

The mission arrived in Manila on September 22 and completed its fact-finding work on October 1.

The ILO is the only tripartite—government, workers and employers—agency of the United Nations. When the ILO first requested the Arroyo administration to allow its high-level mission to investigate the KMU’s allegations of labor rights violations, Malacañang refused. It later agreed.

Mission members talked with families and relatives of labor leaders killed allegedly by military men and their agents. They visited the economic export zones to look into claimed violations of labor standards and laws.
They looked into the labor problems of the Aquino famil’s Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac (where labor leaders have been killed and allegations of massacres have been made). The team also interviewed, military men, government officials and legislators.

Based on what the members found during their fact-finding sorties and interviews, the mission is making some recommendations. Among these is the coordinated training of the national police and the armed forces on freedom of association and civil liberties, the training of judges and lawyers on international labor standards and their use in the judiciary, the continuing education of the directors and employees of the labor department and other government agencies on international labor standards, and the promotion of social dialogue.

The ILO mission also recommended the creation here of an independent tripartite monitoring body to verify allegations of violations. The team said the creation of the body would be proof of the government’s “commitment to comprehensive and coherent action and an inclusive participatory approach to taking meaningful steps at the national level.”

The mission’s final report of findings will be submitted to higher ILO officials in charge of the freedom of association and the protection of the convention on the right to organize. These higher bodies will assess the findings.

The team’s recommendations are worthwhile. Heeding them will benefit the nation. The Arroyo Administration must not trash them. –Manila Times

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